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Today in Tech News Digest, Flappy Bird is no more, Edward Snowden’s methods are revealed, the Moon may be mined, EA’s decidedly dodgy Dungeon Keeper ratings system is exposed, Pinterest updates its mobile website, and Shingy the Digital Prophet is a hit.

Flappy Bird Flies The Coop

Flappy Bird is no longer available to download, with the game’s creator Dong Nguyen deciding to pull the game from the iOS and Android app stores. Flappy Bird was released back in May 2013, but gained notoriety after being featured on a popular YouTube channel and consequently shared on social networking sites.

By the end of January Flappy Bird was a mainstream hit Paper Vs. Paper, Chromecast Porn, Flappy Bird Flies, Esurance Trolls [Tech News Digest] Paper Vs. Paper, Chromecast Porn, Flappy Bird Flies, Esurance Trolls [Tech News Digest] Paper fights Paper in a story akin to David and Goliath, Windows 8.1 Update 1 leaks, Google officially bans porn from Chromecast, Flappy Bird flies around the world, Apple releases latest commercial, and Esurance trolled... Read More sitting atop the free game charts on iTunes and Google Play. By the time Nguyen removed the game on Sunday (Feb 9), it had been downloaded by more than 50 million people. Those who hadn’t yet succumbed to the lure of this maddeningly difficult game have now missed the opportunity to ever experience it.

The reason behind the removal of Flappy Bird remains mystifyingly unclear. In a series of tweets, Nguyen explained that he “cannot take this anymore,” but denied it was due to “legal issues.” He also refused to sell the game to interested parties, but promised to “still make games.” Flappy Bird is thought to have been bringing in $50k a day in advertising revenues, making this decision absolutely bewildering.

Snowden Used A Web Crawler At NSA

The trove of secret documents stolen by Edward Snowden when he worked at the NSA have revealed shocking levels of spying NSA Tracking, Pony Passwords, Reversible USB, Santa Trackers [Tech News Digest] NSA Tracking, Pony Passwords, Reversible USB, Santa Trackers [Tech News Digest] NSA is tracking us all, Pony Botnet snags 2 million passwords, next-gen USB to be reversible, Beats Music launch date, Valve joins Linux Foundation, PopUp Archive launched, and two Santa trackers go into battle. Read More being conducted on ordinary members of the public. And it has now been revealed that he grabbed this treasure trove of information using nothing more sophisticated than a run-of-the-mill “Web crawler similar to Googlebot.

The crawler works by scouring the Web for particular search phrases, following link after link until it gets to the good stuff. This calls into question the NSA’s own security measures, especially as this is the organization in charge of preventing classified information falling into the hands of foreign agencies and individuals. Then again, they’re unlikely to be actually in the building as Snowden was.

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Private Companies Want To Mine The Moon

Private companies could soon be mining the Moon to “prospect for and utilize” its resources. And NASA is keen to offer its expertise and experience to these commercial ventures. This sounds like a well-worn plot from any number of sci-fi movies, all of which end badly for humanity, but the Lunar Cargo Transportation and Landing by Soft Touchdown program (CATALYST) is real and happening.

While individual countries cannot lay claim to the Moon thanks to the 1967 Outer Space Treaty of the United Nations, private organizations could conceivably do so in pursuit of the rare substances thought to be in abundance on Earth’s satellite companion. Which is a rather unsettling thought for anyone but the greediest of individuals.

EA Fixes Dungeon Keeper Ratings

EA stands accused of trying to game the system by only allowing positive ratings for Dungeon Keeper to appear on Google Play. When the Android version of Dungeon Keeper asks players to rate the game, it gives them two options: ‘1-4 Stars‘ and ‘5 Stars‘. Clicking ‘5 Stars‘ takes players to Google Play, but clicking ‘1-4 Stars‘ takes players to a submission form that goes straight to EA.

The company has tried to defend this system, but the lies fed to Polygon aren’t exactly convincing. EA isn’t exactly well-regarded amongst gamers, winning the “Worst Company In America” accolade twice in a row, and continually failing to deliver the experience gamers deserve and expect. Dungeon Keeper may be a free-to-play title 5 Free-To-Play Games Coming To PlayStation 4 5 Free-To-Play Games Coming To PlayStation 4 The PlayStation 4 has some fantastic games heading its way, which is one of the multitude of reasons why you should buy the Sony console over the Xbox One. Having already looked at five games... Read More , but that doesn’t excuse this behavior.

Pinterest Updates Mobile Website

Pinterest has given its mobile website a fresh lick of paint Pinterest Gives Its Mobile Website A Fresh Design In A Nod Towards Increasing Usage Pinterest Gives Its Mobile Website A Fresh Design In A Nod Towards Increasing Usage Pinterest has radically redesigned its mobile website. The latest makeover closes the gap in user-experience with its desktop version, and also the iOS and Android apps. Read More , bringing a cleaner look to and many of the features previously limited to the full site. The company suggests that the makeover means it doesn’t matter if you have the dedicated Pinterest apps or not, though that would obviously be preferable. This redesign comes hot on the heels of the news that its mobile apps account for 75% of Pinterest usage.

Shingy Is ‘Digital Prophet’ At AOL

And finally, some guy called Shingy has become a minor celebrity over the weekend, as news of his existence spreads across the Internet like a virus. His real name is David Shing, and he’s the “Digital Prophet” for AOL. That’s his official job title. No, seriously.

We don’t need to waste too many words talking about this strange little man with a made-up job at the dinosaur that is AOL, because Valleywag has done so already. Reading it should make you feel better about your own job, which, regardless of how unsatisfying it may be, is a lot more worthwhile than this guy’s job.

Tech News Digest… Breaking News Into Bite-Sized Chunks.

Image Credit: Eduardo Fonseca

  1. Tom W
    February 10, 2014 at 4:19 pm

    As far as I can make out, Flappy Bird was removed because certain developers, instead of supporting a fellow developer for doing something he loves, decided to give him a hard time about the game. The originality was likened to Jetpack Joyride and others but, as far as I can tell, there was enough different about the game to make it unique, especially considering that Jetpack Joyride was essentially an updated Helecopter Game. The artwork also came under fire, but I choose to believe that it was done for reference more than anything else. I guess it all boils down to jealousy, but I am very disappointed in any developer who would choose to act like that.

  2. Tony Karakashian
    February 10, 2014 at 4:01 pm

    Well, I can't say I entirely disagree with EA's methodology. When scanning reviews of apps, I typically look at the distribution of how many gave X number of stars first. If an app's got 15k 5-star reviews and 6 1-star, it's probably not going to eat my phone. If the distribution isn't that wildly disparate, I'll look at the 1-stars to see if there's anything even mildly intelligently written in there that I need to worry about. More often than not, 1-star ratings are completely useless and written by people who just want to complain.

    In the middle of the extremes, though, lies opportunity for improvement, and I can see a company wanting to get correctly managed feedback instead of random garbage like "DOSNT WRK! SHULD BE REMOVED FROM APP STOREE!!!!!!!" By compiling the lists themselves, they can more easily filter.

    The signature line for the CSRs who work for our company state: " You're going to get a survey from my company about me. If you're going to rate me less than perfect, please let me know first so I can correct for you." Same principle.

    Now, that being said, there's quite a few 1-star ratings for DK, and most are reasonably well-written and make good points. It's not that EA is preventing people from leaving poor reviews, but that they're taking feedback within app. If you want to go to the Play Store yourself and enter a 1-star rating, there's nothing preventing you.

  3. Matthew H
    February 10, 2014 at 3:44 pm

    EA seems to just kill amazing franchises, eh? I was so excited about Dungeon Keeper hitting iOS/Android, but now I'm just bitterly disappointed with something that's a blatantly cynical grab for cash.

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